Pumpkin Risotto

by Chef Elizabeth Whitt

Serves 8

1 onion, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil, divided
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 cups Arborio rice
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup white wine
5-6 cups chicken broth
1 small baking pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1-2 inch pieces
1/2 cup grated parmesan or pecorino
1/4 cup cream (optional)

Heat broth in a sauce pan.  Bring to a boil, add pumpkin or butternut squash and a few pinches of salt, turn off heat and let sit until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Remove squash with a slotted spoon and set aside until rice is done. Heat a 4-to-5-quart saucepan over medium heat and add onion and 1 tbsp. butter and 1 tbsp. vegetable oil, salt and pepper. Cook until onion is tender, about 5 minutes.  When onion is tender, add the rice and cook stirring frequently for about 1 minute, to coat the grains of rice. Add the wine and begin adding broth 1-2 cups at a time and continue to stir often. Your liquid should be at a constant simmer so adjust your stirring or your heat to achieve tiny bubbles. Once the rice has absorbed most of the liquid add more.  Begin tasting the risotto after you have added half of the broth. When it is cooked it should be tender but not mushy. Continue adding broth until it has reached correct consistency, about 20 minutes.  Add cheese, cream and 1 tbsp. butter and stir until combined.  Fold in squash, check for seasoning and serve.

Oven Baked Method: Heat a large oven safe skillet or Dutch oven over high heat. Add oil, onion, salt and pepper and sauté until just tender, about 5 minutes. Add rice, more salt, white wine, cubed but uncooked butternut squash and 4 cups chicken broth and stir until combined. Bring broth to a boil, cover and bake in oven at 400 until rice is done, about 15-25 minutes. Check cooking after 15 minutes and add more broth if needed. When rice is just or almost done, add in cheese, butter and cream if desired and let rest 10 minutes and serve.

Thai-Style Carrot Soup with Chrysanthemum Leaves

Melissa's World Variety Produce Yields 8 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped unpeeled fresh ginger
3½ cups fat-free, low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup light coconut milk
1/3 cup fat-free evaporated milk
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar or maple syrup
2 teaspoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon Asian (roasted) sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon dried red chile flakes
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh chrysanthemum leaves

In a large pan or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, onions, celery, garlic, and ginger; cook for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent. Add the broth, coconut milk, evaporated milk, lime juice, peanut butter, syrup, vinegar, fish sauce, sesame oil, coriander, turmeric, and chile flakes; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, until the carrots are very tender. Remove from the heat.

Using a ladle, remove 1 cup of the broth and set aside. Process the remaining soup in batches in a food processor or blender until smooth; hold the lid down with a potholder if using a blender. Taste and season with salt and pepper. If the soup is too thick, stir in all or some of the reserved broth.

If making it ahead, refrigerate, covered, for up to 24 hours. Gently simmer on low heat until reheated. Ladle into soup bowls. Garnish each serving with chopped chrysanthemum leaves.

Meatless Alternative: Omit the fish sauce and substitute soy sauce.